Bristol Airport this afternoon announced a £8.6m extension of its terminal – the first major expansion of the building since it opened in 14 years ago.
The scheme forms the latest stage of a large-scale, phased development at the airport which will lift capacity from 6m to 10m passengers a year. Bosses also hope it will bring about the return of direct transatlantic flights and the opening of new Middle East routes.
The extension will include a new departure area with shops and hundreds of additional seats for passengers along with a potential second executive lounge and an outdoor terrace for travellers waiting to board flights.
Behind the scenes it will also improve baggage handling by extending the processing area, the airport said.
Work is due to start next month and will be finished in time for next summer's peak holiday period.
The work comes hot on the heels of the opening a £6.5m central walkway at the airport to ease congestion at peak travel times.
Airport managers have made no secret of their desire to attract an airline that will bring back direct flights to the US. There are also plans to introduce services to the Middle East. This afternoon’s announcement is a major step for the airport, which is likely to handle a record number of passengers this year, in achieving these ambitions.
Chief executive Robert Sinclair said: “The central walkway sets a new benchmark for passenger facilities at Bristol Airport and the eastern terminal extension will raise the bar higher again.
“This significant investment demonstrates our ambition to become the airport of choice for passengers across the South West and South Wales.
“High-quality infrastructure will also make Bristol Airport even more attractive to airlines, helping to extend the choice of destinations available – including long-haul services to North America and the Middle East in future.”
Last year Bristol Airport, the UK’s fifth largest outside London, handled 6.1m passengers. Passenger numbers in June reached record levels for the month, lifting the total for the rolling 12-month period to 6.23m and surpassing the previous record total for a calendar year – achieved in 2008 – for the first time. The airport has also this year announced a number of new destinations.
The scheme announced this afternoon, which will extend the terminal eastwards, along with the recently-opened central walkway, form part of a comprehensive development of the airport which will enable it to accommodate 10m passengers a year.
Direct flights to the US from Bristol were introduced by Continental Airlines 10 years ago but later scrapped.
Pictured: An artist’s impression of the new departure lounge terrace, which will form part of the terminal extension announced this afternoon